Shaking the Tree artistic director Samantha Van Der Merwe sent out a press release last night announcing that, after a six-month search, the theater has found a new home in a 2800-square-foot warehouse. On September 15, it will move to 823 SE Grant Street with plenty of time to open the first show of the season, Masque of the Red Death, on October 24.
"I really like the rawness of the space" seen in the photo, Van Der Merwe told On the Town. "I want to experiment with creating set-installations within the outer shell. We will learn a lot about its capabilities on our first project."
The new space is two blocks west of Shoebox Theatre, which houses Northwest Classical Theatre Company and Theatre Vertigo. Given the closing of the performing hub Theater Theatre last year, which caused Vertigo to move into Shoebox as well as sending Profile Theatre across the river to Artist Repertory Theatre, it’s delightful news to hear Shaking the Tree will stay in SE and even open up new space for other theater companies to use.
"Over the past few months, I have had a lot of companies approach me about one-time rentals," says Van Der Merwe. "Right now, there are only conversations about single projects; no one has approached me about subleasing on a more permanent basis."
We look forward to seeing how this shakes down.
Here’s more from Van Der Merwe’s press release:
Why was I searching for a new artistic home?
In December of 2013, Shaking the Tree’s current landlord passed away. He was the executor of a family trust that owned the building on 14th and Stark St. The tenants knew that we had about a year before the building would be sold, and I knew that I didn’t want any uncertainty about occupancy once we were in production mode for Masque of the Red Death.
What does this move mean for Shaking The Tree?
Our new space is more of a theatre space than a studio space. Classes, workshops and rehearsals will still happen in the space, but it is very exciting to think of all of the theatrical possibilities that a large open space with 20 foot ceilings can provide. It’s definitely a leap into expansion on all levels.
What does this move mean for the theatre community?
With space at a premium in Portland right now, and theatre rentals hard to find, Shaking the Tree hopes to provide a space for nomadic groups to rent (for shows, rehearsals & workshops), at a reasonable rate, on the South East side.